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Thursday, December 12, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Idaho ultrasound bill shows lawmakers’ distrust for women

Through their ceaseless attempts to adopt unconstitutional anti-abortion laws, it’s become clear the majority of Idaho legislators do not trust women with this personal decision.

Lawmakers are at it again, though this time they’re offering some weak spin about how opposition to their latest bill is the real war on women.

Nice try.

HB 516, which passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, would require that women seeking abortions be given a list of providers who offer free ultrasounds and be told they have a right to this procedure.

That’s an interesting angle when you consider that many of these same lawmakers reject the right to health care in general. Plus, they’ve blocked efforts to accept the federally funded program to expand Medicaid, which would expand access to care.

We’re confident that women seeking abortion know the fetus is alive. Lawmakers, apparently, are not. Plus, because of previous legislation, the state already provides women detailed abortion information. Lawmakers, apparently, believe that isn’t good enough.

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, said providing ultrasound information shows “true trust in women.”

“To deny women this information is paternalistic,” he said.

Actually, it shows that he and his colleagues don’t trust women to seek an ultrasound, if that’s what they want. Plus, they don’t trust women to make the right decision with the information the state already shoves into their hands or the information they gather independently.

That’s true paternalism.

Then there’s that old chestnut about women being less likely to become pregnant if intercourse is not consensual. This came up as legislators debated whether there needed to be an exception to the ultrasound rule under circumstances of rape and incest.

Not to worry, said Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who said many cases of rape don’t lead to pregnancy “because of the trauma of the incident.”

This is nonsense, according to the scientific consensus. And it leads to the ugly inference that if a woman who claims to be assaulted becomes pregnant, then maybe it wasn’t rape. Maybe she’s lying.

This ultrasound bill is disingenuous and condescending, but at least it’s not as bad as a previous bill that would’ve mandated ultrasounds before abortions. Talk about not trusting women.

That 2012 bill was so extreme that even some pro-life lawmakers recoiled. As former Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, said back then:

“There seems to be a presumption that a woman considering abortion is uninformed and needs government guidance. … But I would submit that rather than government guidance, their guidance should come from their physician and their family and their clergy.”


But it looks like many Idaho lawmakers don’t trust those folks either. They only trust themselves.

To respond to this editorial online, go to and click on “Opinion.”

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